Interview: Federica Nardoni Spinetta, founder of Monte-Carlo Fashion Week

With Monte-Carlo Fashion Week on the horizon, Monaco Life speaks to Founder Federica Nardoni Spinetta about her motivation in creating the fashion event, its successes and its future. 

Italian-born Monaco resident Federica Nardoni Spinetta founded the Chambre Monégasque de la Mode in April 2009 to federate and bring together Monegasque designers focusing on creativity and innovation. In 2013, she created the Monte-Carlo Fashion Week (MCFW), an annual event to showcase Made-in-Monaco brands and attract the participation of both well-established and emerging designers from all over the world to present their creations in the alluring vitrine of the Principality. 

The upcoming 12th edition of the MCFW, from 22nd to 26th April, promises to be captivating and responsible. It will feature a combined program of conferences, fashion shows, and the prestigious Fashion Awards Ceremony, which recognises trailblazers, creatives, and eco-friendly personalities for their outstanding contributions to the fashion industry. 

Federica has a knack for scouting new talents and those with the most potential. Several emerging designers and budding fashion photographers who received the MCFW Fashion Awards were put in the spotlight and later gained worldwide fame.

Monaco Life spoke to Federica Nardoni Spinetta to learn about what inspired her to switch from a career in finance to the fashion industry, her plans for the 12th edition of Monte-Carlo Fashion Week, and how she encourages new designers to step on to the catwalk, encourage them to launch their first collection, and have the chance to be recognised by their peers.   

Monaco Life: What are your plans for the upcoming 12th edition of the MCFW?

Federica Nardoni Spinetta: The MCFW 2024 will kick off with a cocktail reception at City Hall on Monday 22nd April. It will be followed by conferences at the prestigious Yacht Club of Monaco, including a ‘Face to Face’ with Italian businessman Federico Marchetti, founder of the Internet retailing company Yoox Net-a-Porter Group. Marchetti successfully combined the exclusive nature of luxury fashion with the full accessibility of the Internet. 

Princess Charlene of Monaco and Princess Gabriella with Federica Nardoni Spinetta (left), and Rosanna Trinchese (right) at MCFW 2021. Photo credit: Daniele Guidetti

The highly anticipated MCFW Fashion Awards on the evening of Tuesday 23rd April will commence with a fashion show by Stella Jean, an Italian fashion designer of partial Haitian origin. Stella Jean returns to the MCFW, opening the runway shows program with her vibrant and energetic collection, which the awards ceremony immediately follows. 

On Wednesday 24th April, fashion lovers can attend the fashion shows on the Observatory Deck of the Yacht Club of Monaco. The designers in the program are Gracey Owusu-Agyemang, Beach & Cashmere Monaco, Victoria Silvstedt Collection by Marli Dresses, A’Biddikkia, Leslie Monte-Carlo, Mami Oka, and Les Dessous de Monaco. The runway parade will culminate on Friday, April 26th, with a fashion show at the Salle Leo Ferre in Fontvielle with a fashion show by designer students from Central Saint Martins in London, with scenography by students from Pavillon Bosio, School of Fine Arts of Monaco, under the direction of Thierry Leviez. 

Can you tell us about your professional career?

I was born in Alassio on the alluring Italian Riviera and have been residing in Monaco with my family since 1996. I have been actively involved in the economic and social life of the Principality for over 25 years. I graduated from the Bocconi University in Milan with an Honours degree in Economics and Management with Specialisation in Corporate Finance. My professional career started at KPMG Milan, where I worked with textile/fashion and oil enterprises. I have been a Financial Director and Member of the Board of an Oil Company for many years, and today, I remain a consultant.

Alberta Ferretti Fashion Show at the YCM, MCFW 2019, photo source: MCFW

What inspired you to venture into the fashion industry?

I have always been passionate about fashion. For me, fashion is an art form, as it allows you to express yourself as a designer or through your style with whatever you choose to wear. I started designing and creating clothes when I was 16-years-old, and at the same time, I did some modelling. In 2005, I founded the Monegasque brand Beach & Cashmere Monaco, reflecting the Principality’s cutting-edge, chic, and glamorous spirit. 

Throughout the years, I designed sustainable collections such as ‘Save the Ocean’, produced with renewable fabrics and materials recovered from the sea, to raise awareness about the need to love and protect the ocean and, by extension, our ecosystem. 

What were your objectives in creating the Chambre Monegasque de la Mode in 2009? 

When developing Beach & Cashmere Monaco, I had the idea of ​​bringing together the Made-in-Monaco fashion trademarks already existing in the Principality. In April 2009, collaborating with two other long-standing Monaco brands, Elizabeth Wessel and Banana Moon, we founded the Chambre Monégasque de la Mode, or Monaco Fashion Council, which I preside over. Today, we are celebrating its 15th anniversary, a significant milestone!

The mission of the Chambre Monegasque de la Mode is to position Monaco as an essential player in the world of fashion while highlighting the value of Made-in-Monaco designers along three axes: Circularity and Sustainability, Multiplicity, and Education. 

R.Calcagno, Beatrice Borromeo, HR Alexandra Hannover, Tatiana Casiraghi, Federica N. Spinetta, Andrea Casiraghi, Celina Lafuente de Lavotha, Mireille Pietri, MCFW 2017

What inspired you to launch the Monte-Carlo Fashion Week (MCFW) in 2013? 

I created Monte-Carlo Fashion Week, which became the official fashion event of the Principality, to reach the crucial targets we had set for the Chambre Monégasque de la Mode and establish Monaco as a relevant fashion stage. We are already in the 12th edition of the MCFW, which will run from 22nd to 26th April. It promises to be not only glamorous but responsible, offering a marvellous show of the latest trends in fashion by well-known and emerging designers from Monaco and the world over, who present their creations in the vitrine of the Principality. 

Why did you dedicate the MCFW to the Resort, Cruise, and Capsule collections?

The MCFW follows the international fashion calendar, and Monaco is an attractive seaside destination. Therefore, we selected the Resort and Cruise collection and Spring-Summer Capsule SS2025.

You may call it Resort, Cruise, Pre-Spring, or Holiday, which are variations of the same term and refer to a particular set of garments you would take on vacation. Easy-going, lively, breezy fabrics, alluring bathing suits, pareos, and sun hats — simply put, a collection dedicated to the dolce far niente of the summer holidays. It is the chance for designers to use this intermediate season to reconceptualise their creative vision in a more wearable way.  

We realised that many designers were keen to present a collection specifically dedicated to the Principality, inspired by the glamour of Monte-Carlo. We also decided to introduce the capsule collection, which consists of clothes with a specific colour palette that can be mixed and matched in different ways to create multiple outfits. 

Do you regularly attend other Fashion Weeks like Paris, Milan, etc.? What helpful information can you learn from these events to apply to MCFW?

Going to shows during fashion weeks is essential and very enjoyable. My main objective is to consolidate the relationships with brands already in our network and connect with new ones while discovering emerging talent.

We work closely with Camera Moda Italiana and the British Fashion Council, so I am a regular at Milan and London Fashion Week. I also had the opportunity to participate a few times in the Paris Fashion Week. 

Do well-known brands and emerging designers participate in MCFW?

The MCFW is a showcase for renowned international brands and young designers worldwide to display their latest collections. 

Our team selects emerging designers based on their creativity, vision, and potential. We provide a comprehensive package to encourage them to show their first collection on the Principality’s runway and become visible to their peers and the public.  

Federica Nardoni Spinetta, Naomi Campbell, Andrea Casiraghi, MCFW 2017

Could you tell us about new designers who launched their brand at the MCFW and later became famous? 

We at MCFW have a defined mission to support young designers and have a knack for discovering new talents.

In 2018, we invited Rahul Mishra, a young and motivated designer from India, who was honoured with the MCFW Sustainable and Ethical Brand Fashion Award. During the India Couture Week in 2019, the designer unveiled his collection, which was dedicated to and inspired by the Principality, as a recognition of that award. Mishra has now become one of the most celebrated designers whose collections grace the catwalks around the globe.  

In 2017, the young, brilliant photographer Nima Benati received the MCFW Emerging Talent Fashion Award, sharing the stage with Naomi Campbell, Andrea Casiraghi, and his wife Tatiana. In 2019, Benati entered the famous Forbes 30 Under 30 in the art and style section, and she is now a highly recognised photographer. 

In 2018, we honoured Kazakhstani photographer German Larkin with the MCFW Emerging Talent Photography Fashion Award, recognising his talent and creative vision. He has now become renowned for his work as a social and fashion photographer for Vogue Italy and is one of the industry’s most influential and successful photographers. 

How does MCFW promote responsible fashion? 

I believe in responsible fashion, an approach to producing and using clothes and accessories to reduce the fashion industry’s negative impact on the environment and society. One of the main goals of my brand, the Chambre Monégasque de la Mode, and the Monte-Carlo Fashion Week is to focus on eco-friendly and ethical fashion and help raise awareness of the importance of protecting our planet and its life.

Through the MCFW, we proudly support Monegasque brands while offering international fashion designers and personalities of the prestigious Principality of Monaco with various venues to present their collections. We also provide a forum to discuss the importance of responsible and circular fashion, from design to fabrics, production, supply chain logistics, retail, consumption, and disposal strategy. 

We launched the Sustainable Contest in 2020, and the winners to this date have been Desserto with his cactus-based innovations, ACBC, a leader in applied sustainability for the fashion and textile industries, Verabuccia, dedicated to innovative production processes to create a new material from the recycling of vegetal peel, and Regenesi, giving new life to post-consumer materials. 

Beach & Cashmere Save the Ocean collection, photo source: MCFW

What else can you tell us about the highly MCFW Fashion Awards? 

During the MCFW Fashion Awards Ceremony on Tuesday 23rd April, the designers and fashion personalities who have distinguished themselves with their ethical and innovative vision and lasting contribution to the fashion industry will be honoured. The winners’ names will be unveiled that evening, and they will join the ranks of past award recipients. 

What are some some of the brands and celebrities in fashion who have received MCFW recognition?

During previous editions, the MCFW recognised many brands and personalities such as Naomi Campbell, Alberta Ferretti, Philipp Plein, Etro, Fausto Puglisi for Roberto Cavalli, Rahul Mishra, Stella Jean, Edward Enninful, Gilberto Calzolari, Genny, Chiara Boni, Matteo Ward, Sara Sozzani Maino, Desserto, Tommy Hilfiger, German Larkin and Nima Benati. 

How do you see the MCFW evolving?  

I believe MCFW still has considerable potential. Our combined program of conferences, fashion shows, fashion hubs, pop-ups, and awards ceremonies is creative and exciting. My dream is to organise a bi-annual edition of MCFW in the future. 

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Main photo of Federica Nardoni Spinetta, courtesy MCFW